- NATO Kosovo Force
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
- Operation Inherent Resolve
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation New Dawn
- Operation Octave Shield
- Operation Odyssey Lightning
- Operation Spartan Shield
- U.S. Africa Command Operations
- U.S. Central Command operations
- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Army Cpl. Michael E. Thompson
Died September 17, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
23, of Harrah, Okla.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, Task Force 34, Oklahoma National Guard, Lexington, Okla.; died Sept. 17 when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter he was in went down in the vicinity of Tallil, Iraq. Also killed were Chief Warrant Officer 2 Corry A. Edwards, Sgt. Daniel M. Eshbaugh, Sgt. Anthony L. Mason, 1st Sgt. Julio C. Ordonez, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brady J. Rudolf and 1st Lt. Robert Vallejo II.
Slain soldier remembered at funeral
The Associated Press
KINGSTON, Okla. — An Oklahoma soldier who died in Iraq was remembered Saturday as an “all-American boy” who had already served a tour in Iraq and volunteered to go back to the war zone.
Services for Cpl. Michael Eyre Thompson, 23, were held in a crowded school gymnasium in Kingston in southern Oklahoma. A 2003 graduate of Kingston High School, Thompson died on Sept. 18 in a helicopter crash in Iraq that also killed two other Oklahoma National Guard soldiers as well as four soldiers from Texas.
Funeral services have been set for the other two soldiers from Oklahoma as well as a fourth soldier from the state who was killed in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Tracey Friend, one of several people who spoke at Thompson’s funeral, said Thompson believed in the cause he was fighting for and wore it on his shirt sleeve.
“He could make you smile in the worst of times. ... People were drawn to this young man,” Friend said. “He was an all-American boy, fun loving and easy going.”
Friend recalled they were on guard duty on top of a bunker at approximately 2:30 one morning when they began talking about home, hunting and music. Friend said that Thompson loved music.
“He began singing Waylon Jennings at the top of his voice,” Friend said. “Lights started coming on in the neighborhood below and the Iraqis were coming out and saying, ‘Mister, please (stop).’ He looked at me and said, ‘Sgt. Friend, I don’t think they know Waylon Jennings,’ and for the next four hours, they were entertained. He didn’t shut up.”
Friend choked up when talking about the honor of escorting Thompson’s body home.
“It is a horrible loss for all of us but the honor bestowed upon me to escort him home — it is the greatest honor I have ever had in my life,” Friend said.
In addition to Thompson, Sgt. Daniel Eshbaugh, 43, of Norman, and Chief Warrant Officer Brady Rudolf, 37, of Oklahoma City, were also killed when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter they were in crashed in the desert about 60 miles west of Basra in southern Iraq.
All three were from 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, Task Force 34 out of Lexington, Okla.
A memorial service for Rudolf has been scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
Services for Eshbaugh will be held on Oct. 4 at CrossPointe Church in Norman. He will be buried at Fort Sill National Cemetery in Elgin.
Meanwhile, services were held Saturday for Staff Sgt. Brandon Farley of Haworth, who also died on Sept. 18 from injuries suffered a day before when his patrol came under fire in Afghanistan.
Farley “was always interested in the military and military history,” said Victor Balagbagan, a veteran social sciences teacher at Haworth High School. Balagbagan said members of Farleys 1997 graduating class at Haworth were among the estimated 300 people who attended Farley’s funeral service. “Brandon didn’t know what, exactly, he wanted as far as the military was concerned. But he wanted to know that he would measure up ... so that ‘I won’t let my buddies down,”’ he said.
The teacher said he assured Farley he was “as strong inside as outside, and he wouldn’t let anyone down.”
He measured up, said Balagbagan, “and he did what he did with pride and dignity.”
The word hero is tossed around so often that its meaning is often diluted, Balagbagan said. “Brandon has given all. People like Brandon is what being a hero is all about.”
More than 1,000 McCurtain County residents, many waving flags, turned out Friday to honor Farley, 30, as his body was carried in a processional, led from the Idabel Regional Airport into downtown Idabel by about 100 members of the Patriot Riders, a group of motorcyclists.
He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.
Army Cpl. Michael E. Thompson remembered
The Associated Press
Friends of Michael E. Thompson recalled a time they were on guard duty very early one morning when they began talking about home, hunting and music.
“He began singing Waylon Jennings at the top of his voice,” Staff Sgt. Tracey Friend. “Lights started coming on in the neighborhood below, and the Iraqis were coming out and saying, ‘Mister, please!’ He looked at me and said, ‘Sgt. Friend, I don’t think they know Waylon Jennings,’ and for the next four hours, they were entertained. He didn’t shut up.”
Thompson, 23, of Harrah, Okla., was killed Sept. 18 when his helicopter went down near Tallil. He was a 2003 high school graduate and was assigned to Lexington, Okla.
Thompson enlisted in the Army in 2004 and joined the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 2007. He also served in Iraq. A hunter and fisherman, he volunteered to go to Iraq because the Army needed a qualified open-door machine gunner.
“He was an all-American boy — fun loving and easygoing,” Friend said. “He could make you smile in the worst of times.”
Thompson is survived by his father, Kory Thompson mother, Angie Perry and stepfather, Richard Perry.